US Youth Soccer Region III Championships Continue in Edmond, Okla.
Edmond, Okla. (June 22, 2013) — The 2013 US Youth Soccer Region III (South) Championships, presented by the National Guard, continued Saturday at the ESC Complex in Edmond, Okla. More than 190 games have been completed, and tomorrow’s action will decide the 90 teams moving on from the event’s preliminary rounds. Sunday’s matches begin at 8 a.m. CT and continue throughout the day with the final matches beginning at 5:45 p.m.
In addition to top competition, players receive exposure to more than 75 college coaches that have registered for the Region III Championships. Year after year, the coaches enjoy the level of performance and urgency that comes when the teams play for advancement in the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series.
On Saturday teams competed to create separation in their groups and improve their chances of advancing to the knockout rounds.
Under-14 Girls Tophat 17 Gold (GA), a semifinalist last year, met a tough Tulsa Blitz 99 White (OK) team on Saturday. Tulsa’s Kennedy Goins and Tophat 17’s Kara Henderson exchanged first-half goals to make it 1-1 at halftime. Caroline Orman’s 41st-minute goal put Tophat 17 up 2-1, but Cora Duininck and Nayeli Perez each scored in a 5-minute span to give Tulsa a late lead. With just a few minutes left, Tophat 17 found an equalizer when Chloe Maize weaved through several defenders before cutting inside and slotting a right-footed shot into the left corner of the net to cap a 3-3 draw.
That score line exemplified the competition in Edmond, as Tophat 17 entered the Region III Championships having not conceded a single goal during its run to the Premier League East title. Tophat head coach Troy Garner said the Region III Championships help the players learn to play against different styles and in changing environments.
"I think it speaks highly of the tournament because player development is what we’re trying to do," Garner said. "If players are in big-time games where they have to make big-time decisions and it’s changing and it’s competitive and things are on the line, that’s making them better players in the long run."
In a very tight Under-17 Boys group, West Pines Strikers (FL) earned a 2-0 win over 2012 Region III semifinalist Concorde Fire Elite (GA). Alberto Poleo scored both of the Strikers’ goals, as they moved to the top of Pool A, which has seen three of its first four games result in ties.
Under-18 Girls 94 NC Fusion Elite (NC) took a big step toward a second consecutive semifinal appearance with a decisive 5-0 win against El Paso Storm (TX-S). Sarah Henson scored twice, and Rachel Baylor, Allison Hopkins and Jaclyn Nieradka each added one goal to the balanced attack.
After winning its opening game on Friday, Under-16 Boys Cajun SC Fury 97 (LA) looked to take control of its group against SSA Bulldogs (MS). Early in the second half, an SSA forward chased down a bouncing ball behind the defense, but his volley went just wide of the right post and the game remained scoreless. Despite Fury controlling possession and earning a multitude of second-half corner kicks, the Louisiana state champions couldn’t find the back of the net. Several timely interventions by the SSA defense kept the teams even and the game ended in a scoreless draw, leaving the Under-16 Boys Pool B wide open heading into Sunday’s final preliminary games.
Under-13 Boys United FA 00 Elite (GA) increased its odds of advancing past preliminary play after it defeated Oklahoma FC 2000 (OK), 2-1, on Saturday. United’s Carlos Reyes settled a loose ball at the top of the penalty area and calmly chipped it past the keeper for the opening goal in the 12th minute. OFC responded just before half when Jaime Ponce hit the crossbar with a superb long-range effort before Daryl Dike put in the rebound. Joshua Deane scored the game-winner for United in the 34th minute to give his team its second win in as many games.
Regional winners earn a berth to the 2013 US Youth Soccer National Championships, which will be played July 22-28 at Overland Park Soccer Complex in Overland Park, Kan.
The US Youth Soccer National Championships will consist of US Youth Soccer Regional Champions in the Under-13 through Under-19 Boys and Girls age groups, as well as the US Youth Soccer National League qualifiers in the Under-15 through Under-18 Boys and Girls age groups to complete the field of 88 teams.
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